I do a lot of thinking about the offlane.
Maybe it’s because I find the lane to be the most dynamic in the game. Maybe I enjoy the masochistic nature of the playstyle. Maybe it’s because I still haven’t made Be the Better Offlane.
It’s the last one. It’s starting to get embarassing.
But one of the biggest reasons why BTBO is still MIA is because
I’m ridiculously lazy the offlane has been in serious flux. See when I started playing this game back in 6.72, the offlane was the hard lane. You were shoved out into the cold with a paperclip and some bubble gum and expected to come back with a Blink Dagger within 20 minutes. If you didn’t, too bad. Git gud or die trying. Then, ever so slowly, the offlane started getting easier and easier.
This lane wasn’t built in a day, however, so I’d like to start off by pointing out some choice balance changes that I believe got us to this point.
6.79 - Oct. 21, 2013
- Creeps now meet a bit closer to the tower in your offlane
To this day, this is one of my least favorite changes in Dota. Not because of the balance implications, but because of how inelegant of a solution it was. I can’t find any record of the actual numbers, but basically it just meant that the creeps spawning in the offlane had slower movespeed. Until they reach the T2 tower. Then they went back to full speed. But after 7:30 they spawned at normal speed the whole time.
Remnants of this change still exist in the game currently. Check the movespeed of your safelane creeps as soon as they spawn at 0:00 and compare it to the offlane creeps. Safelane creeps got some serious pep in their step until they hit the T2 tower.
- Non-Ancient Neutrals now split XP with all heroes in the AoE instead of just the team that killed them
- Swapped the medium pullable Neutral Camp with the small camp
Not only did the pull camp no longer provide a substantial experience boost for safe lane supports, but contesting the pull became as simple as standing around.
- XP AoE increased from 1200 to 1300
- Day/Night length decreased from 6 to 4 minutes
- Your gold income is now 1 per 0.6 seconds, up from 1 per 0.8 seconds
Minor changes, but still beneficial for offlaners. A sooner night meant supports would have a harder time finding you to zone you out and you could slip into the side shop a little easier.
6.82 - Sep. 25, 2014
6.82 was a massive patch. Not necessarily for balance, it just brought the first map/terrain change the game had seen in years. Side note, I think the funniest part about looking back at this patch is how Valve justified shifting Rosh’s pit ever so slightly with a full paragraph:
Along with an assortment of other changes, it’s moving day for Roshan. Though don’t worry, he hasn’t gone far. His pit now looks out upon the river from a different angle, and nearby paths have been rerouted around his legendary den. Though his location may have changed, you can count on him defending his territory with the same murderous energies.
Whereas in 7.00 we got:
Moved Roshan to new area near top Powerup Rune spot
The terrain changes weren’t too dramatic for the Radiant offlane, but the Dire offlane could now move straight into the side shop without eating any trees and the clump of trees to the left of the Dire offlane got some new routes.
The bigger changes were:
- Added a Bounty Rune
- Two runes now spawn in the river every two minutes. One of them will always be a Bounty Rune
Bounty Runes themselves were nice, but a guaranteed rune near your lane made offlane bottle a far more viable pickup.
- Glyph of Fortification cooldown is now refreshed whenever you lose a Tier 1 tower
Also helped. The offlane used to get rushed down heavily before this change. Glyphs coming back after a T1 tower went down meant being able to plow through 2 tiers of offlane towers was a less viable strategy. The offlane was spared the deathball.
6.86 - Dec. 16, 2015
More terrain changes were added in the Balance of Power update. ‘Changes’ are putting it lightly, actually. This was the patch that added a brand new hard neutral camp right next to each team’s offlane next to their secret shop. Now by itself this wasn’t too big a boon for offlaners. But say hello to a shiny new item by the name of:
- Iron Talon
- New item formed from Quelling Blade, Ring of Protection and a Recipe.
Let me tell you something. I hate this item. I hate what it stands for. I hate how it became a consolation prize for offlaners that couldn’t take the heat and had to get out of the kitchen. I hate how it became nearly as good as actually staying in the lane. I hate how core it became on so many heroes.
I hate how I could never bring myself to buy it because I was too stubborn to adapt.
6.88b - Jul. 12, 2016
- Lane creeps now give 20% experience when killed by neutral creeps, instead of 0%.
Wait for it.
6.88c - Aug. 19, 2016
- Lane creeps now give 35% experience when killed by neutral creeps, instead of 20%.
Wait for it…
7.00 - Dec. 12, 2016
- Lane creeps now give 50% experience when killed by neutral creeps, instead of 35%
Yep, that’s it. Nothing more to talk about for this bala–
jk. Do you love hearing this sound effect every 15 seconds? Boy, have I got the patch for you.
LESS FREQUENT CAMP SPAWNS
Pulling is for the weak.
- Dying to Neutral creeps now cause your hero to have a minimum respawn time of 26 (equal to level 6 respawn time)
The last few months of 6.88 brought this trend of supports/roamers often expending all their HP and mana resources and then Edge of Tomorrowing themselves in their friendly neighborhood neutral camp. It was pretty dumb. Don’t get me wrong, it was smart, but it was pretty dumb. Early game, these heroes are really only as useful as the amount of mana they have. So why walk/TP back to the fountain when you can kill yourself and go back at the cost of a few seconds of unearned passive gold?
Actually, why go back at all, we’ll bring the fountain to you.
Enter the Shrine
I’m going to hold my tongue here. Open mind and whatnot.
Shrines are structures added to Dota 2 in patch 7.00.
They were created to
ruin the very fabric of what we consider sacred in this game. Whoops.
They were created to provide portable fountain-esque regen for each team at two checkpoints on the map. One Shrine is very close to a team’s offlane and the other is very close to a team’s midlane. Activating it provides a 120/40 HP/MP regeneration per second aura for 5 seconds in a 500 AoE on a 5 minute cooldown. They do not grant vision, but they can be teleported to. Shrines can only be killed once every enemy tier 2 tower is downed.
Shrines are AoE turbo fountains on a five minute cooldown. Don’t waste that kind of potential on a solo Sand King 7 minutes into the game. Abuse it. Literally try to kill yourself as soon as you see the enemies in lane. HP, mana, cooldowns, who cares. Go hard. When the dust settles and the enemy is licking their wounds with a tango, hit up your local corner Shrine. Not just you, but bring your carry, bring your support, bring the whole trilane. Don’t be shy, it’s a mere 10 second walk from your tier 1 tower and everyone’s invited. The enemy safe lane shrine? That thing’s like 30 seconds away. If they wanna go head-to-head shrine-to-shrine, let them. Enjoy the level advantage when they finally come back. Then five minutes later, do it again. Get a kill? Great. Enemy got away? Who cares. You’re playing with house money. If every five minutes a pile of Salves and Mangoes spawned right next to your lane, would you ignore them? There’s really no incentive to leave Shrines on cooldown, especially in the early game.
nah i'm good
And this is just the offensive uses of the Shrine. Defensively, Shrines are amazing as well. Pre-7.00, when a safe lane carry took the enemy T1 tower, life was good. Your jungle felt secure, your creeps move further up the lane so people approaching your lane were visible, you could relatively safely farm the jungle camp near the enemy’s secret shop, maybe even sneak some damage on a T2 tower while people are distracted. Now? You’re in Shrine Country now, boy. Step a little too far and TP rotations can come in right behind you. Hell, even after the T2 tower is down you still need to be careful about heroes being able to Shrine in on you.
pshh, nothing personnel...kid
If you’re a carry, which lane do you feel safer farming in? Granted, you only need one ward to scout out the possibility of Shrine-TP ganks, but that doesn’t make them much easier to escape from.
Easy is the New Hard
In 7.00, I see very few reasons to consider the safe lane to be ‘safer’ than the offlane. Neutral pulls are slightly easier, but with neutrals spawning only every other minute, you can’t reliably count on pulls to fix creep equilibrium anyway. Even then, both teams can pull the hard camp as well. Side shop access is supposedly easier, but these days I feel like I think to myself, ‘I wish I could go to the side shop’ far more often as a carry than as an offlaner. You get access to your jungle in the safe lane, but now a secondary jungle has been added. There’s even a bounty rune in there for your troubles. Lastly, if you do get dived under your safe lane T1, there’s only one structure that people can TP to if you need protection. But in the offlane? You’ve got two. Three if you count how close the T2 tower is. And everyone knows how excruciating the TP channel time increase can be in those situations.
There are many ways to either nerf Shrines or buff safe lanes, but I’m going to embrace change. IceFrog has made great strides to make nearly every hero balanced. It’s why there were very few traditional hero nerfs/buffs this patch.
Maybe now it’s time to make every lane balanced as well.
I don’t know how accurate this article will be in the coming months, but right now, based on the incredibly small sample size of 7.00 games I’ve played, I think I will single-handedly usher in a new laning paradigm and redefine how we as a community play this game. Dota history will henceforth be referred to as BT and AT. PPD drops the Evil from his new company and names me his COO. Valve cancels the New Bloom Festival and instead incentivizes workshop artists to create cosmetics commemorating my face. Arteezy finally wins a TI.
All of these things are unlikely to happen, but every time I play with my stack I fully intend on having our carry farm in and be supported in what we know as the ‘offlane.’ I doubt I’m going to be able to get away with that in my pubs, though. Why?
Because everyone knows that carry players don’t read.